Spending A day in Porto

In all honesty, Porto wasn't originally in my plans when I wanted to visit Portugal. Since I only had 4 days (subjected to the cheapest range for flight tickets) I thought i'd spend my all them in Lisbon. However, a friend of mine told me that she took a trip to Porto during her winter tour around Spain and Portugal, found it to be beautiful and wished she could have spent more time there. She said she enjoyed Porto much more than Lisbon. So given her verdict, I decided to squeeze in some time in my schedule to spend 24 hours in Porto - of course that meant waking up at 7 or 8 am everyday during the trip to cover as much of Lisbon as I could, but I'm not complaining! I love waking up early when I'm traveling!

The train ride from Lisbon to Porto took about 3 hours, and the view that you get along the ride is INCREDIBLE. JUST INCREDIBLE. Unfortunately, the windows were dirty and very... spotty? (if that is a word) so, I couldn't take any nice pictures, but I spent half my time attempting to!

porto church

When I got off the train, I was instantly amazed by the surrounding and the vibe of the city. It is different from Lisbon, and a lot less crowded. The most fascinating thing was, the trees in Porto were WHITE. From afar, they looked like they had white leaves, but of course going closer to it, it was just a tree covers in white (some pink) flowers and no leaves! If anyone knows what these trees are called, please let me know. For now, they register in my mind as "flower trees".

White flower trees in porto
pink budding flower trees in porto

After dropping my bags at the hostel, I wasted no time and headed out to explore. But I took a couple of outfit shots in the backyard of the hostel before heading out. Yes - the hostel I stayed at had a BACKYARD, an area to chill on and have your meal outside and on top of it, a nice area with sofas and pillows to relax on the inside! Even the 2nd floor had its own area with flowers and chairs where you could just sit and talk!

pink blazer white striped outfit of the day
pink blazer striped dress outfit
OOTD Pink blazer and stripe dress

Dress - similar here / Blazer - similar here / Leggings - Primark / Watch - Nakedglory.com

But of course, I wasn't interested in resting in the hostel, so I went off and made my way through the city centre. Upon reaching the city centre, I realised why my friend thought Porto was more beautiful than Lisbon. The architecture in the area reminded me so much of Paris!

Porto architecture
Porto Portugal, city centre
Fountain in Porto

In my opinion, Lisbon embodied what I expected the typical architecture in Portugal would be like. Rustic, colourful, a little worn down, and charming nonetheless. However Porto's city centre had a more similar vibe than what you would expect a stereotypical european city like France or Germany to have, but influenced with a little bit of asian/chinese inspired architecture details.
(As you can see, my vocabulary when it comes to architecture description is close to none, so I hope the pictures aid you in understanding what I'm trying to say!)

Buildings in porto
Porto city centre details
Architecture of porto city centre in portugal

Basically, the difference between the vibes was that Porto was a little bit more elegant and well polished, it really took me back to the times I spent roaming around Paris and even reminded me of Germany a little bit. Of course, when you take a turn down the streets, you instantly remember you're in Portugal. The cobbled streets that undulate up and down was just like Lisbon, and has now, to me, become a characteristic trait of Portugal (base on my narrow conclusion after visiting 2 cities haha!)

streets of porto portugal

As I was exploring the streets, it started to drizzle, and then RAIN. I was so upset that it was raining when this trip to Portugal was my way of getting away from the rainy, grey London. Since I did not have an umbrella, or anything to shield me from the rain, I headed into a nearby store that was listed as a tourist attraction on my map. If I was not wrong, I was suppose to be looking for a library, but that wasn't it. Maybe the words meant something else in portuguese, or I walked the wrong way/plotted the wrong thing on my map. I believe it was the latter base on what I googled before heading to Porto. Regardless, I was so glad I found that attraction of a shop!

Quirky store in porto portugal

The shop was like a novelty store museum. It sold things from door hangers, to clocks, collectibles such as cars, home decor, mini plants, CLOTHES, postcards, food, and JAM. The first floor was for collectibles and the second floor they had more home items like pots cute pots and pans, cookbooks and homemade marmalade jam.
Not to mention, the interior decor of the shop was so on point. It was like #futurehouseinspiration everywhere I turned.

Street to the porto ribeira square

After the rained stop, I continued to make my way towards the main attraction in Porto, which was the Porto Ribeira and Ribeira Square. It boasts a great view of the river and the city, and I was most definitely not disappointed! The houses near the ribeira were so colourful and just gave me a nice-all-around-portugese-vibe. Its what I'd imagine myself seeing when I think Portugal.

buildings around the ribeira in porto
Luís bridge in porto
Dom Luís porto portugal

I attempted to cross the metal Luís bridge along the Ribeira  but I gave up after walking midway because a) I was hungry and b) The winds were so strong and cars were zooming beside me I thought I was going to fall off.

Porto Ribeira river portugal
Porto River Ribeira portugal

The best thing about the Riverside of Porto, was that there was NO ONE. I mean, you would expect a place with a view like this, plus loads of cafes and restaurants in nearby to be surrounded with people, and bustling with life, but no, it was QUIET. There was perhaps one or 2 workers in the area but apart from that, I had the river to myself.
If I wasn't that afraid of seagulls and pigeons, I would have just sat right a long the river and just stared at the view opposite. But there were massive seagulls that stared at me as if I ate their lunch, so I took a short stroll along the river instead of sitting at one place.

After my stroll, I decided to satisfy my hunger at a recommended dinner place round the corner from the Ribeira, called Jimao, and treated myself to the BEST dinner I had in a long while (plus the restaurant staff were SO NICE.)
I planned to eat slowly and enjoy my time with my food till the sun went down so I could see what the Ribeira would look like at night - in my head it was colourful, and I also expected it to be more crowded.
Low and behold, it was NOT CROWDED AT ALL. But, the view lived up to my expectation. It was serene, and yet so colourful. I loved how the lights of the building reflected and made dancing colours on the waters of the river. Honestly, I live for moments like this when I travel.

Porto river night scene
Porto Luís bridge and river night view

Porto definitely did not disappoint. Although I did not manage to find that supposedly gorgeous library/bookstore, I had my fair share of beautiful sights. I loved it even more for the fact that I did not have to squeeze past people, or have awkward heads in my photographs. If you're planning to visit Portugal for a longer period of time, give yourself a day or 2 in the wonderful Porto, you'd be pleased!

A Day in Porto (+Outfit!)

16 April 2015 Porto, Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

One my first night in Portugal, I met a lovely german girl whilst having dinner at the hostel. It was her second time back in Lisbon and she was there to visit and catch up with her friends. Over dinner, she shared with the table her previous experience of living and working in Portugal, and also her favourite spots near Lisbon.

I was debating if I should take a day trip out to Sintra, because I was pretty short of time. But that lovely girl insisted that it was her favourite place and that if I didn't have enough time to spend in Sintra, I should just visit the Quinta Da Regaleira. I've read on several blogs, that Sintra is a must visit when in Lisbon, and after hearing what she said, I decided to just go for it.

When you first arrive in Sintra, you'd immediately be charmed by its small town vibe. It has wide cobbled streets with lovely scenery, buildings and trees places together forming an incredible landscape, and since the weather was so kind in Portugal, flowers were blooming. All these could be admired as you take a walk up to the main attractions of Sintra.

Landscape Sintra Portugal
Street shops sintra portugal

I knew I wouldn't have enough time to explore the whole place, so I headed up to Quinta da Regaleira immediately, and decided to go on exploring when I'm done with it.
Quinta da Regaleira is a palace that is located in a HUGE park with several attractions, rock and stone structures, and the most interesting part - underground caves and tunnels that link up to wells.

After paying the entrance fee, I was given a paper map with the most realistic illustrations. I realised my maps on my iPhone did not show the detailed routes of the garden, and so I gave myself an internal motivation talk, and convinced myself I could navigate the park with a paper map.

Outfit Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal and outfit of the dayootd sintraQuinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

All went well for the first 10 minutes as I climbed u to the Regaleira Tower, and got the amazing view of the Main house, and the chapel. I even decided to take a couple of photos there because it was a quiet morning with very few people around.

After walking for another 15 minutes, I found myself at an entrance to one of the underground caves. The day before I went to Sintra, another girl from the hostel told me there were some parts she found pretty creepy, and didn't elaborate because she wanted me to have the full experience of the place. When I reached the entrance of the underground cave, did I realise what she meant.

Cave in Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Underground cave Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

From the pictures it doesn't look as scary. These photos were taken from the outside, and the amount of light in the cave decreases by 10x for each step you take in. According to the map, I had to walk straight through to where the black hole is in the image above.

If there had been other people around, I wouldn't mind walking in. Unfortunately, there was NO ONE in sight. Not a single soul. After taking 10 steps into the cave, I probably creeped myself out, and so I turned and walked out, attempting to find another route.

Leda's grotto Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Portal of the Guardians Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
cistern Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

I couldn't find "another route" and somehow led myself round and round the park. I attempted to read the map, and to stay on the big pathways, but somehow, I ended up walking into an area with trees, and no distinct pathway. It was a stupid decision to bring ankle boots, but well, we all learn from our mistakes.

Park Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

I passed this pathway probably over three times even though I was taking all sorts of different routes. It was pretty dreadful. Basically whatever that went through my head was, "Where did the path go. Why am I climbing on soil. I feel like Jane from Tarzan. Wait... Is this a dead end?! This map doesn't make sense!! Forget it, i'll just take this main path down. Shit why am I back to where I started?!" But eventually, I found my way, and managed to see both the Unfinished Well and Intrinsic Well. These were wells that go up to 27m deep into the ground, and looking up from the bottom you feel as though you're trapped, or about to levitate up to heaven. It could be either-or. 

Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal Intrinsic Well

These wells were what stands out to most people, and both wells were connected by the deep dark underground caves. I took the underground cave from one well to another, because it was a relatively short path, but man, it was wet, and completely PITCH BLACK in those caves. If not for the fact there were more people in this part of the cave, i'd be pretty scared.

Underground Cave Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalUnderground cave 2 Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

Walking through another stretch of the underground caves brought me to this part of the park, which had a nice structure and a wide space in front of it where parents and children were just running around. It's a nice place for a picnic spot to take a rest amidst all the climbing. But rest is for the weak, so I continued on. Besides, I was looking for the Waterfall.

Portal of Guardians Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Outfit in front of portal of the guardian Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal
Coat - Coldwear.sg / Bag - Gap / Jeans - Primark / Top - Thailand / Shoes - Ecco
The waterfall happened to be at the exit of another stretch of the underground caves, and somehow, I managed to find my way there. It was a small waterfall, but a VERY pretty one, where you could walk across the waters by stepping on the individual stones. Of course, this part of the park was teeming with tourists.

Waterfall Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalLake of the Waterfall Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

By this time, I had probably and hour left, and decided that I should head to the main house, and have a walk through it before leaving the park. I pretty much figured out how to get my way back, and so following the main route on the map brought me back to the Chapel and the Main Palace - Quinta da Regaleira.

main house Quinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalQuinta da Regaleira Sintra PortugalMain house of Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

The mansion was nice, and in the rooms they had a history of the place, architectural drawings and lots of other exhibitions, it was a nice way to conclude the end of the morning spent in Quinta da Regaleira. Walking back to the train station, from Quinta da Regaleira, I got such a wonderful view of   Sintra. The place is beautiful from both ground and above. I love the orangey-brown roofs of the buildings, and all the greenery that surrounds it.

I was so glad I went to Sintra even if it was just for a couple of hours!

Landscape Sintra PortugalLandscape Sintra PortugalLandscape Sintra Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira
Getting There: CP Train from Lisbon - 40 minutes ride
Entrance fee: 4 Euros (student price)
Approx. Time Spent: 3-4 hours

If you're ever going to Lisbon, remember to set aside at least 1 day for Sintra! There is so much more to seed in the area apart from Quinta da Regaleira; quirky stalls, and lovely shops lined along cobbled stone streets, I wish I had more time to explore! Well, I guess its a reason to go back to Portugal someday, and hopefully not get lost again.

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Underground Caves and Rock Structures (+ Outfit!) - Quinta da Regaleira, Portugal

28 March 2015 Quinta da Regaleira, 2710-567 Sintra, Portugal

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